Not that we needed more emojis, but the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organization whose actual job is to manage global emoji standards, will release 230 more icons this year.
The final list of new images includes interracial couples, a prosthetic arm, wheelchair users, and gestures from American Sign Language. With diverse representations of physical abilities, orientations, gender identities, and skin tones, the Emoji v12.0 data set is all about inclusivity.
The disability-themed emojis were proposed by Apple, who developed the concept with the American Council of the Blind and the National Association of the Deaf, along with other disability rights groups. The proposal read, "One in seven people around the world has some form of disability. Adding emojis emblematic to users' life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability."
One breakout star in the new crop of icons is the "drop of blood" emoji. Designed by the girls' rights charity, Plan International UK, to represent menstruation, the blood drop is meant to destigmatize the topic for young girls experiencing puberty. Plan International collaborated with the British National Health Service to propose: "Not only would a blood drop emoji be relevant for hundreds of millions of women and people who menstruate all around the world, it would also show that periods aren't taboo and they are something we should be able to talk about openly and honestly." Lucy Russell, head of Plan International, added, "An emoji isn't going to solve this, but it can help change the conversation. Ending the shame around periods begins with talking about it."
Beginning in September or October (depending on your mobile phone carrier), you'll have at your disposal icons for every appropriate social situation–but why not go even further? Hopefully, we'll soon adapt icons for every inappropriate social situation, as well. The next time someone at your office scream-sneezes, imagine being able to simply send one "spittle" icon to silently shame him into never doing it again. Carmen Barlow at Plan International believes emojis encourage those kinds of open conversations, stating, "Emojis play a crucial role in our digital and emotional vocabulary, transcending cultural and country barriers."
We already have the "poop" emoji; imagine having a tiny "fart" icon to alert others when someone's violated an elevator. Hey, Unicode Consortium, Emoji v.13?
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